For indoors and out, Austrian companies have come up with simple solutions for our everyday needs, at home and on the move

With technology advancing at breakneck speed, consumer electronics are now more ingenious than ever. And Austrian inventors are taking full advantage of the opportunities.  Here are two gadgets conceived locally, filling needs you never knew you had!

Portable Power

Trekking the great outdoors is meant to be the perfect excuse to escape the everyday, reconnect with nature and unplug from the barrage of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and e-mail notifications we are constantly bombarded with. Still, the idea of going completely off the grid can be somewhat daunting. We’ve become slaves to our thirsty smartphones gasping for a power socket when it’s least convenient.

The Austrian startup Sunnybag hopes to satisfy all of these needs. The plan: to take advantage of unused surfaces by stitching in a photovoltaic panel. Whether it’s on a rugged backpack ($149) or a stylish leather shoulder bag ($389), a portable, pliable solar panel exposed to sunlight for two to three hours can generate enough power to charge a smartphone. So this is more  than just a quirky conversation starter! And while relying solely on solar may not yet be a reality, it’s definitely a step towards applied sustainability.


The Light Fantastic
Unlike 3D movies, Google Glass and QR codes, none of which has ever gained traction, smart appliances are slowly creeping into our homes, whether we like it or not. Some are hard to justify – does my oven really need WiFi to tell me my lasagna is ready? Do I need cutting-edge carpeting that tracks my every move and shows me the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night?

On the other hand, some innovations make good sense. Like putting the heat or air-conditioning on a timer to switch on a half hour before you come home.

Yes, please!

The advent of LEDs as the new eco-conscious source of illumination has given Viennese designers Luke Roberts and their team the flexibility to be creative with smart lighting. Result: the Fluxo lamp (€449). Its round shape can light up an entire room, or, with the help of an app, only parts at a time. Because these are LEDs – the same technology used in modern TVs – color possibilities are unlimited. This makes the potential lighting schemes endless – from waking up to a simulated sunrise in winter to setting the mood for a house party. What makes the lamp truly smart, however, is its capacity to learn. It knows when someone is in the room, and shuts off automatically when not needed. Over time it notices what lighting schemes you prefer and predicts which you will need. (Do I even know this myself?)

Fluxo was successfully launched on Kickstarter in January with close to 1,000 backers, and should be available by October. Mounting one on your Sunnybag optional.